Businesses in Loveland and throughout Larimer County have a major stake in the success of a Colorado public health order requiring all Colorado residents 10 and older, with limited exceptions, to wear masks in indoor public spaces.
Unless a sudden spike in local pandemic case numbers can be stemmed or reversed, Larimer County businesses could lose the benefits of a variance granted by the state this spring that allows them much greater flexibility and creates more opportunities for them to reach customers.
Rising COVID-19 case numbers in Colorado spurred Gov. Jared Polis to issue the mask order on Thursday, July 16, joining 24 other governors in enacting statewide face-covering mandates.
“If we continue to see cases rise, and early-warning indicators continue to appear, we could see our variance rescinded,” Larimer County Health Department spokeswoman Katie O’Donnell said on Thursday. “This would mean a roll back to the ‘Safer-At-Home’ phase from a state level, and a minimizing of the allowed business operations we were awarded with our variance.”
The variance, and other exemptions that followed, had led to the reopening of restaurants to dine-in customers, allowed foot traffic in retail stores instead of curbside pickup and permitted a much broader range of other business opportunities. The exemptions had also allowed institutions such as libraries and museums to reopen to the public.
The County health message said businesses must lead the way in preserving the variances by stringently enforcing the new statewide law requiring masks and by continuing to observe social distancing and restrictions on group sizes on their premises.
“The virus doesn’t stop at city limits. The virus doesn’t stop at county lines,” Polis said in announcing the mask order. “We need a coordinated, unambiguous state message with moral clarity and scientific clarity. We’re providing that today: Wear a mask when you’re in public and around others.”
O’Donnell said the success that Larimer County has had in controlling the pandemic spread, and that led to the crucial business variances, has been threatened by complacency.
“We were being diligent about face coverings and social distancing, but we are starting to get complacent,” O’Donnell said.
“We don’t want that to happen. We need everyone to be taking this seriously. Face coverings, social distancing, hand washing and frequent cleaning are critical in slowing the spread of the virus and keeping our businesses operating with greater flexibility.”
Read the full Executive Order. Learn more by reading the FAQ document and by visiting https://covid19.colorado.gov/mask-guidance.